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Bexley Council branded 'Robin Hood in reverse' over funding for new HQ
Bexley Council has been branded "Robin Hood in reverse" for taking millions of pounds out of Slade Green to help fund its new headquarters.
The authority sold the Howbury Centre site in Slade Green Road to developers for £14.3million and put around £11.1 million of that towards renovating the Woolwich building in Watling Street, Bexleyheath.
This meant only around £3.2 million was put directly back into one of the borough’s most deprived areas.
Mel Hudson, who is an outreach worker for community group Howbury Friends has refused to carry on operating at the new Howbury Centre facility being built by the council when it opens in the autumn.
This is after the authority picked Lewisham-based social enterprise Eco Communities to run the building ahead of Howbury Friends.
Miss Hudson told News Shopper: "They are like Robin Hood in reverse because they have taken from the poor to give to the rich.
"They have sold our grounds, taken the money and built a nice posh place for the fat cats in Bexleyheath that no one from Slade Green can go to.
"They should be investing more of the money back and it just shows they don’t care about the residents of Slade Green.
"They have done it because we don’t vote Conservative, which is not right and appalling."
North End ward Councillor Stefano Borella added: "The Civic Offices have been built on the backs of the residents of Slade Green.
"The council has put in funds from Section 106 agreements and the schools budget, but this is not capital investment.
"They have taken more money out than they are putting back in so one of the most deprived wards in the borough has invested £11 million into one of the most affluent.
"This is plainly ridiculous. The residents of Slade Green are paying for Watling Street and getting absolutely nothing in return."
Council leader Teresa O’Neill claims the council has invested £8.5 million in Slade Green, which is seeing a new community centre built and 210 places added at Slade Green Infants' School and Haberdashers' Aske's Crayford Academy.
She said: "I am proud of the investment we have made in the Slade Green area, which it must be remembered the local ward councillors opposed.
"It far exceeds anything the opposition did for the area when they were in power.
"The new community facilities and school places are great news for the people of Slade Green and will benefit local people for many years to come."
A council spokesman added: "The income gained from the sale of the council’s surplus office sites that belonged to all Bexley residents - in Bexleyheath, Sidcup, Welling and Slade Green – is benefitting every part of the borough.
"The Bexley First programme has seen the council move from four offices into one.
"It has transformed the way the council works and is benefiting all Bexley residents, providing improved customer services and saving £1.5 million a year."
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